A bitter budget fight has led to a U.S. government shutdown, leaving hundreds of thousands of federal workers without paychecks and shutting down federal services all over the country.
A midnight deadline to avert a shutdown passed amid Congressional bickering. That could impact Americans' ability to get government services ranging from federally-backed home loans to supplemental food assistance for children and pregnant women.
For many Americans who are civilian employees of the federal government, it means no more paychecks as they're forced onto unpaid furloughs. For those still working, it means delays in getting paid.
Some workers are allowed to work a few hours Tuesday to change voicemail messages or fill out time cards. But after that, they're under strict orders to do no work, even check their email.
Monday evening, Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly released the following statement as the House and Senate failed to reach an agreement to keep the federal government operating.
“Everyone knows Washington is broken, but too few people are talking about what that means for real people. The economy suffers, people looking for work suffer, and countless families, business owners, and farmers simply seeking responsible behavior from the people they elected suffer. This is unacceptable, and we must do better.”
Indiana Congresswoman Jackie Walorski announced her support for H.R. 3160, the Government Shutdown Fairness Act, a bill to prohibit Members of Congress from receiving a salary during a government shutdown.
“The concept is simple. If lawmakers cannot work together and get the job done for the sake of the American people, then we should not get paid,” said Walorski. “I remain focused on a commonsense plan to responsibly fund the government and dismantle Obamacare—providing essential services for our seniors, veterans, and hardworking families. In addition, I am pleased the president and Senate passed and signed our House bill to fund military pay during a government shutdown.”
Many are wondering this morning what this all means at an individual level, so here are the facts.
You will still get your mail, but you won't be able to go to national parks or museums, including the Indiana Dunes. Campers already in the parks have two days to leave.
Social Security checks and Medicare payments will still go out, as will unemployment benefits and food stamps, but they might be delayed.
Federal Women with Infant Children (WIC) funds will not be available, but states may still disperse some money.
Most schools should be able to continue their federal lunch programs through the end of this month.
The shutdown, the first since the winter of 1995-96, closed national parks, museums along the Washington Mall and the U.S. Capitol visitors center. Agencies like NASA and the Environmental Protection Agency will be all but shuttered. People classified as essential government employees - such as air traffic controllers, Border Patrol agents and most food inspectors - will continue to work.
The military will be paid under legislation freshly signed by President Obama, but paychecks for other federal workers will be withheld until the impasse is broken.